Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Gouverneur Morris, 20 October 1816

To Gouverneur Morris

Monticello Oct. 20. 16

Dear Sir

On the eve of departure to a possession 90. miles Southwestwardly from hence, where my affairs will keep me until the end of the next month, I learn from a letter of mrs Morris’s that we may expect the pleasure of a visit from her and yourself in this quarter. I shall be really mortified if I lose my share in it by absence. but an inference from the letter that your departure from New York was still at some little distance, encourages me to hope that by the time you reach this point in the circle of the friends you have to visit in this state, I may be returned. I shall be very happy indeed to recieve you here and to give you personally assurances of my continued esteem. you will find me enjoying general good health, but much enfeebled by age, as at that of 73. ought to be expected. should I however not be returned, my daughter your quondam acquaintance in Paris, now surrounded by her children and grandchildren will be happy in the opportunity of renewing old acquaintance with you, and the more as she will be charged, to pay to you, as my representative the friendly attentions, I should so much rather have done myself. we shall still regret that your visit is not in our belle saison, as to the general unpleasantness of cold our winter adds deep and miry roads. with my respects to mrs Morris accept the assurance of my great consideration and esteem.

Th: Jefferson

RC (NNC: Morris Papers); salutation and dateline added separately to RC and PoC; addressed: “Gouvernier Morris esquire Morrisania near New York”; franked; postmarked Milton, 23 Oct. PoC (DLC); on verso of reused address cover of James H. McCulloch to TJ, 25 Sept. 1816; mutilated at seal; endorsed by TJ.

Gouverneur Morris (1752–1816), public official and diplomat, was born at his family’s Morrisania estate in what is now the Bronx, New York City, educated at King’s College (later Columbia University), 1764–68, and admitted to the bar three years after graduation. During the American Revolution he helped frame New York’s constitution and represented that state in the Continental Congress, 1778–79. After leaving office Morris remained in Philadelphia, resumed his legal practice and, later, worked as an assistant to Superintendent of Finance Robert Morris (no relation), 1781–84. In 1787 Morris was an influential Pennsylvania delegate to the Federal Convention, where he favored a strong executive, centralized government, and a free-market economy. He is credited with editing the resulting United States Constitution into its final form and supplying the preamble. In 1788 Morris departed for Europe, where he pursued business interests in Paris, labored as an unofficial American emissary to Great Britain in 1790, and served as United States minister plenipotentiary to France, 1792–94. Morris returned to the United States in 1798, settled at Morrisania, which he had purchased from his family in 1787, and represented New York as a Federalist member of the United States Senate, 1800–03. Although he supported the Louisiana Purchase, he opposed most of the Republican platform, including the War of 1812. Late in life Morris promoted the construction of the Erie Canal (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; William Howard Adams, Gouverneur Morris: An Independent Life [2003]; Morris, A Diary of the French Revolution, 2 vols., ed. Beatrix Cary Davenport [1939]; Melanie Randolph Miller, ed., The Diaries of Gouverneur Morris: European Travels, 1794–1798 [2011]; PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 39 vols. description ends , 15:79; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 1:92, 96, 157 [22 Dec. 1791, 12 Jan. 1792, 27 May 1794]; New-York Evening Post, 6 Nov. 1816).

In 1809 Morris married Ann Cary Randolph, a sister of TJ’s son-in-law Thomas Mann Randolph. No letter of mrs morris’s to TJ from this period has been found, and none is recorded in SJL. She may have written instead to her brother or his wife. belle saison: “beautiful season; summer.”

Index Entries

  • aging; TJ on his own search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Health; aging search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Health; good health of search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; aging search
  • Morris, Ann Cary Randolph (Gouverneur Morris’s wife; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s sister-in-law); marriage of search
  • Morris, Ann Cary Randolph (Gouverneur Morris’s wife; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s sister-in-law); plans visit to Va. search
  • Morris, Ann Cary Randolph (Gouverneur Morris’s wife; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s sister-in-law); TJ sends greetings to search
  • Morris, Gouverneur; identified search
  • Morris, Gouverneur; letter to search
  • Morris, Gouverneur; marriage of search
  • Morris, Gouverneur; plans visit to Va. search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); TJ plans visit to search
  • Randolph, Martha Jefferson (Patsy; TJ’s daughter; Thomas Mann Randolph’s wife); as hostess at Monticello search
  • Randolph, Martha Jefferson (Patsy; TJ’s daughter; Thomas Mann Randolph’s wife); children of search
  • roads; in Va. search
  • Virginia; roads in search
  • weather; cold search